Marc Benioff, billionaire philanthropist and noted unicorn skeptic, said last year that “The unicorn mania that’s going on, that’s dangerous for our Silicon Valley economy." As opposed to crazytalk private investments and long holdouts for IPOs, the public could be brought in earlier to "rationalize" the real value of companies. "There's no reason [for] these companies who claim to be worth billions of dollars and making billions of dollars to stay in the private markets," Benioff added.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick disagrees. Don't count on an IPO anytime soon for his groundbreaking contractor-based, taxi-dispatching "technology" company, a notably leaky ship that's losing money as fast as it grows.
As Kalanick told CNBC, "I'm going to make sure [an IPO] happens as late as possible."
Why the delay? Nothing to do with losses: Kalanick sees the market — the public, not his investors, not his business aspirations — as "irrational," even bubbly.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle an Uber.
"What I like to say when you get into something that feels like a bubble or, at least, feels irrational is that you still want to build a company that has a strong discipline business building culture," Kalanick solemnly swore.
"I call it the moral obligation with investors who put money in, they need to see liquidity and of course we have employees as well who put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make Uber successful and they own equity and so have to ultimately find liquidity for all shareholders."
Uber raised $10 billion in the past 18 months, and investors who hoped to turn their magical unicorn investment dollars into cold hard American cash through the crucible of an IPO might see the obligation another way.
In a moment of honesty, Kalanick added that he is terrible at PR.
"I'm an engineer by trade, and what engineers do is they go and build, and they don't think a lot about storytelling... What I've learned as we've gotten bigger is that it's really, really important for us to take all the opportunities to tell our story, because as we grow and have a bigger impact on cities, if we don't tell our story somebody else will."
You know, like the "irrational" public.